Getting Started with Lectio Divina

10-21-2018Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

In my homily last weekend, I referred to a way of praying with scripture called lectio divina. I was asked to describe this practice of prayer more fully, and I am delighted to do so! Lectio divina are simply the Latin words for divine reading. It is a way of praying with scripture (or reading scripture prayerfully) that has been developed especially in the monastic tradition.

As we heard in the second reading at Mass last weekend, the Word of God is living and effective. It pierces to the heart better than a sharp two-edged sword! The Word of God is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He speaks to us and is revealed to us most authoritatively in Sacred Scripture. We need to come to know the scriptures, therefore, on a personal basis. As St. Jerome famously said, "ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ."

Lectio divina provides a way of entering into scripture in a prayerful dialogue. There are more or less detailed methods of lectio divina, but it is essentially a grace -- a gift -- rather than a technique. Here are a few steps to getting started. First, put yourself intentionally into the presence of God. Take up your passage of scripture, perhaps the gospel of the day. Read the passage slowly and attentively. Make sure you understand the words, the setting, who is present, what is happening, etc. Pay attention as well to how this is affecting you. Allow yourself to explore and to question, to imagine and to relate various aspects of the reading. Look for Jesus. What do you learn from Him or about Him? Look for implications for your own life or situation. How is this passage speaking to you now? Do you need to change in some way? Finally, look for Heaven! How are you being shown the way to your final end? It's that simple and that profound! Try it!


Fr. Baker